In an earlier chapter of my life I was a residential real estate appraiser. As such, I would get assignments, usually from a bank, to go inspect a house and then estimate its value for the purpose of a mortgage loan.
I lived in Connecticut at the time. That state, of course, is one of the United State’s earliest colonies with two towns, adjacent north and south to Hartford, vying for the “First Town” status. Wethersfield’s earliest houses cluster around a protected cove off the Connecticut River. Windsor’s oldest homes are also clustered near the Connecticut River in an area along the Farmington River.
One of the airlines offered financial packages to their employees in those days, and I was often asked to provide an appraisal on the residence for a refinancing of their mortgage. One day they asked me to go to Windsor and I called the owner, a pilot, to arrange the inspection.
It was a brick house, built in the Dutch colonial style in 1635. Certainly the oldest house I ever appraised. The owners had been carefully renovating it in keeping with its antique style and it was a very enjoyable inspection.
As I was getting ready to leave I asked the pilot if the house was haunted. He got flabbergasted, firmly stressing that he is a pilot and as such must rely on actual things that can be measured and observed.
I said, “Yeah, I know that, but is the house haunted?” His next concern was how it might affect the valuation of the property. I told him that I did not plan to mention anything he might tell me in the appraisal report; in fact, I had no way to know HOW to factor it. I opined if it was a good experience it would be a positive effect, but how I had no idea at that time.
He then told me the following story:
The renovation work had gotten a bit too much for him to get done on his days off in a timely fashion, so he found a man who said he could do finish carpentry work and had him helping with some of the wood trimwork. He said he was not particularly happy with the guy’s work and often, the next morning would start with him pointing out things that needed to be fixed.
One day he was out in the old barn (now a garage with workbench) working on something when the man came running out of the house, eyes wild. He said he was leaving, never to come back. The pilot got the carpenter calmed down enough to tell him what had happened to scare him: he had been working in the hallway of the second floor when the hair on the back of his neck prickled and he looked around to see a man with a top hat scowling at him.
The pilot was sort of happy that he had gotten rid of the crummy workman, and was resigned to continuing the work at the slower pace by himself. And so he did.
Some weeks later, he was in the attic putting insulation between the floor joists, his wife and daughter two stories below him in the kitchen. He felt the hair on the back of his neck prickle and turned around to see a man with a top hat. The man smiled at him and then faded away.
I suggested the man, who he had not been able to identify, was well pleased with his work restoring the house. The pilot shrugged, again asked that the ghost not be mentioned in the appraisal, but I think he was happy he was able to share his story.